Thursday, February 05, 2009

Is "Sometime Soon" Good Enough? - Day 60 of the Jackson County Ethics Crisis

Rumors are swirling in the Jackson County Courthouse that the majority of the Legislators know they're in deep trouble with their exclusion from the Ethics Code, and that they will fix the problem in a few months after a new Ethics Commission is appointed. Then, they believe, everything will be fine and dandy, and they won't get clobbered with the ethics issue on the campaign trail. I've heard that from 4 sources with good connections to the legislators.

If I can get a handshake on that from someone in a position to make it happen, should I drop this "Day XX of the Jackson County Ethics Crisis" series?

After a good deal of reflection, the answer is not just "No", but "Hell No". I'm going to keep digging and posting until the Legislators accept enforcement of the Ethics Code, or they are driven from office. I intend to help recruit candidates and expose the misdeeds of incumbents until this thing is resolved.

Here are my reasons for refusing such a handshake deal:

1. I don't trust the legislature enough to rely on a handshake. There are 3 people I truly admire out of the group of 9, and that's not a majority. When it comes to dirty political dealing, I know I'm in way over my head, so I don't think it's safe to stop the heat until the problem is solved. Even if one of the legislators I admire promises to fix this problem, I won't believe that Henry Rizzo will allow it to happen until I see it with my own eyes.

2. Good people are already getting misled. Right now, as we speak, good, ethical people are submitting applications to the Jackson County Ethics Selection Committee under the impression that they won't be dragged into the public eye unless they are finalists. The Selection Committee's website promises "Every effort will be made to maintain the confidentiality of applications, but the applications of those selected as finalists may become public. Finalists will be notified prior to their information being made public." However, under the Sunshine Law, those applications are public, and anybody can go look at them. Promising to make "every effort" to keep something secret when you know you are legally barred from making any effort to do so is simply dishonest, and far beneath the standard of ethics we should expect from anyone connected in any way to the Ethics Commission.

3. I don't want to foster the backroom atmosphere of Jackson County Government. Simply stated, if I reach a secret agreement to accomplish what I want, I would be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

4. There's so much to write about! Every day I post something about the Jackson County Legislature, I get more information sent to me. There are a lot of people in the Jackson County Courthouse with information they want to share, and they know I can be trusted to keep them confidential. (If you're one of them, email me at dan(at symbol)

5. We need some turnover on the legislature, and this effort is going to help. The ethics crisis WILL be a millstone around the neck of each and every incumbent legislator in 2010. If the Ethics Crisis is still going on, it will be the dominant theme of the race. Even if they vote in mid-2009 to reverse themselves, I've already talked to at least one consultant who assures me that we can "rebrand" this "Jackson County Ethics Crisis" into the "Jackson County Ethics Blackout" and force the legislators to explain why they supported a 6 month blackout on their own ethical oversight. There's no good way out of this issue for them. There are three legislators I would truly hate to see lose their next race, but I'm confident that at least two of those three will survive the election.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope there are some real ligit candidates in 2010. Most of these guys have got to go. I can't believe that there's no term limits. Just be forewarned, politics in Jackson County is dirty. If you run against Henry, be prepared to be run over.

2/05/2009 10:50 AM  

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